A House hearing devolved into chaos when a GOP congressman shouted over everyone and falsely accused Biden of manipulating Afghanistan intelligence

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GOP Rep. Thomas Mast
  • A House hearing spiraled out of control when a GOP congressman asked misleading questions.

  • He refused to let Secretary of State Antony Blinken respond and repeatedly shouted over others.

  • “I do not wish to hear from you,” GOP Rep. Brian Mast said even after his time was up.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A House of Representatives hearing on Monday about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan spiraled into chaos when a Republican congressman used his time to spread misleading information and shout over others even after he was told his speaking time was up.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee held the hearing, at which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified about the timeframe surrounding the US’s withdrawal of troops and the collapse of the Afghan government.

When Florida Rep. Brian Mast was up, he opened his questioning by referencing reporting about a phone call between President Joe Biden and then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. In the July 23 phone call, according to Reuters, Biden said Afghanistan had a “perception” problem indicating “that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.”

“And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture,” Biden said, according to Reuters.

Mast, a US veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan after a 2010 bomb blast, referenced those comments on Monday and falsely suggested that they indicated that “Biden worked with the coward exiled president of Afghanistan to manipulate the intelligence about the Taliban.”

Blinken pushed back on that characterization, saying, “What the president said to then-President Ghani in private is exactly what he said in public: that the issue was not whether Afghanistan had the capacity to withstand the Taliban, it’s whether it had the will and the plan to do so -“

Mast interrupted him, saying, “So you’re saying the transcript was a lie, that it’s false, it’s incorrect … he did not work to tamp down the intelligence on the Taliban?”

“Absolutely not,” Blinken said.

“So, the transcript is incorrect?” Mast pressed. “That’s your testimony today?”

Blinken responded that Congress was already aware of what the intelligence said and its implications, but Mast continued to say that “everybody looking for an explanation about what happened and how everybody got it so wrong, how your administration got it so wrong needs to look at that as the most likely explanation: asking the [Afghan] president to manipulate the intelligence of what was actually going on with the Taliban.”

The Florida Republican then displayed the photos of the 13 US servicemembers who died on August 26 after an Islamic State militant detonated a bomb at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, killing more than 200 people.

The House hearing devolved into chaos shortly after, as Mast said, “I do not believe whatsoever what you’re saying about the administration not working to manipulate that intelligence.”

“Simply put, congressman, what you’ve said is dead wrong,” Blinken said as he started responding, but Mast cut him off. “I do not wish to hear from you. I’m not yielding you a moment of time. I don’t wish to hear your lies.”

As Mast continued speaking over Blinken, HFAC chairman, Rep. Gregory Meeks, stepped in to say that Mast’s time had expired, but Mast kept going.

“So has the secretary’s,” Mast said, but Meeks shot back, “The secretary can answer the question.”

“I didn’t ask him a question,” Mast said.

“Yes, you did ask him a question,” Meeks said.

“I don’t want to hear from the secretary,” Mast said, but Meeks spoke over him and repeated that his time had expired.

“He lies to us when he steps in front of the camera, that’s what he does,” Mast said as Meeks banged his gavel to restore order.

“People need to use common sense, Mr. Secretary,” Mast said, before Meeks again cut him off. “The gentleman’s time has expired,” Meeks said. “We’re here to hear from the secretary.”

“Not to hear lies,” Mast said.

Blinken at last had a chance to respond when Meeks yielded time to him over Mast’s continued objections.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman,” the secretary of state said. “Just to respond briefly: what the congressman said is simply wrong. Period. Second, I think virtually every member of this committee has had access to or been apprised of the intelligence assessments throughout the year, and you know what they were, you know what they are. And we will continue to provide those assessments and those briefings in the months ahead.

“You’ve heard the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say that he has not seen anything that indicated to him or to anyone else that the Afghan government and military would collapse in 11 days,” Blinken added. “The director of national intelligence has said that even in the days leading up to the Taliban takeover, the intelligence agencies did not say collapse was imminent. This unfolded more quickly than we anticipated, including in the intelligence community. And I could go on. So what has been said and alleged is simply not true.”

Despite Blinken’s response and Meeks’ repeated reminders that his time was up, Mast again jumped in after Blinken’s comments, saying without evidence that it “adds up” that the Biden administration manipulated intelligence surrounding the Afghanistan withdrawal.

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